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Senior volunteers at last year’s Compass Group Canada Festival of Trees. They came to the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia through the Nova Scotia RCMP Veterans’ Association. - Stoo Metz

It’s been quite some time since I attended a WE Movement event. Probably more than a decade ago, in fact, back when I was covering the news for CTV Atlantic.

In case you’re not familiar with WE, the youth organization believes that by coming together, we can create an even better world. Founded by brothers Craig and Marc Kielburger more than 20 years ago, WE embraces the mantra that anyone can make a difference.

WE Day was recently held in Halifax. It attracted hundreds of students from across the province. They were all invited guests because of their involvement with the global charity. Countless schools were represented and many shared success stories on stage. They included raising funds for other not-for-profits, scaring away hunger by collecting food bank donations and spending 24 hours in silence to raise awareness of those children who have no voice around the globe. Suffice it to say, it was an incredibly inspiring afternoon.

From gently-used gift markets to the sale of bricks to build schools in Kenya, the projects were as unique as each school that participated.

My husband and I also had the opportunity to attend the colourful and energy-filled celebrations. We were included in the festivities (despite our age) because the WE Movement is adding mental health to its roster of priorities.

The inclusion of mental wellness is a direct result of both student and teacher feedback, proving there’s a real hunger for more information on topics such as self-care, self-esteem and mental health support. It’s little surprise to me. At the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, we award grant funding to many organizations that focus on our youth. The need is great. Whether it’s smaller not-for-profits, such as LOVE (Leave Out Violence), or national charities, such as Kids Help Phone, every dollar makes a difference.

We also speak at numerous schools each year, spanning elementary classes to university campuses. Our message is always one of hope and is aimed at changing the way people think about mental health, mental illness and addictions.

So, why am I writing about students and the younger generation in a publication that’s called Senior Living? Because the similarities between engaging young people and engaging adults in their golden years far outnumber the differences.

Working together for change is important no matter what your age, gender, education, socio-economic situation or culture. Community engagement is community engagement, whether you’re a 12-year-old student in junior high or a 70-year-old senior living in rural Nova Scotia. Both of these demographics have peer groups, shared interests and the ability to make an impact.

The Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is fortunate to have many community volunteers working to help us help others. In fact, we couldn’t do what we do without the assistance of youth, adults, seniors and everyone in between.

That’s the true beauty of philanthropy. It’s always evolving and changing, depending on who is leading the charge.

Just look at a few of the community events we’ve been fortunate to have benefited from over the past several months. Everything from bake sales, barbecues, sporting tournaments, exercise classes, specialty burger sales, 50-50 draws, casual days, test drives, marathons, fashion shows and more. There really is no limit to the creative fundraising and awareness-building possibilities that are out there.

No matter what your age, there’s a place for you when it comes to changing the way people think. We would love to have you as a part of our community of support.

Please visit for more information and to find our community events proposal form. It’s user-friendly, designed to get you thinking and full of endless possibilities for fun fundraising opportunities.

Starr Cunningham is President & CEO of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia.

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